We’re all pretty familiar with the concept of the country club racetrack. Starting about a decade ago these members-only tracks started popping up across the country. Instead of golfing, they offered racetrack facilities where well-heeled members could take their toys to do some unfettered performance driving.
But these facilities have grown over the years and today they offer far more than just track time and a place to get lunch. With membership fees ranging from $10,000 to $130,000, plus annual or monthly dues, members expect to be treated well. With that in mind, many of these facilities are adding amenities to keep and attract new members, and they are selling plots of land that members can buy to put up their own garages.
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The Thermal ClubEnlarge Photo
One of the main pillars of business at these clubs is the “garage mahal.” It’s the clubs’ way of getting into the real estate game, and it helps pad the bottom line. “What we all discovered right away is cars take up a lot of space and members don’t want to be trailering their cars to the track,” said Autobahn Country Club founder Mark Basso.
Autobahn has sold land in various stages. It started by selling some plots right away to help fund the track. The club then offered rental garages, and finally garage condos, the more elaborate of which are known as “garage mahals.”
The Thermal Club outside of Palm Springs, California, requires its members buy a plot of land and put up a building, known as a Villa. Members work with the track to erect the building. The cost for a Villa dwarfs the $85,000 membership fee.
Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club in Pahrump, Nevada, has rental garages and condos that can be rented out, and it sells plots of land for members to put up their own garages/condos.
Monticello Motor Club in New York sells car storage and plots of land in an adjoining subdivision where members can build houses, but it offers no onsite living space. Atlanta Motorsports Park offers trailer storage and garages, but it also hasn’t opened the door to onsite living space. Both of these clubs have room to improve the balance sheet.
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Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country ClubEnlarge Photo
Driving schools have always been part of these facilities, but they are evolving as well and they are as varied as the clubs that offer them.
Autobahn offers several types of driving instruction. A defensive driving school is available for teens and corporate groups. The track runs its own driving experience for members, even allowing them to get their racing licenses. Autobahn also has an onsite vendor called Team Stradale that provides individual and small-class instruction for members and nonmembers alike.
Owned by former race driver Francesco D’Avola, Team Stradale is also a Radical race car dealer, and much of its instruction is done in various levels of Radicals. Team Stradale’s individual instruction uses in-car telemetry to compare student and instructor laps. By analyzing steering angle, braking, and throttle position, as well as time and track position, a student can learn what areas of his or her driving technique can be improved.
Team StradaleEnlarge Photo
Team Stradale is also a race shop that can build, repair, and maintain cars. The shop will even provide lesser services like cleaning race suits and storing cars. Autobahn has three other race shops, and Atlanta, Monticello, and Spring Mountain have onsite mechanics and/or race shops as well.